Winter storms: Novus methionine plant in Texas set to resume production, local livestock industry sees US$228m in losses

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ronniechua
© GettyImages/ronniechua

Related tags methionine winter storms Texas Dairy Poultry

In an update regarding the status of its manufacturing facility in Chocolate Bayou, Texas, following the winter storms, Novus says production of methionine hydroxy analogue (HMTBa) is expected to get underway again in mid-March.

HMTBa is used to make Novus’s ALIMET feed supplement and other specialty products.

In the weeks since winter storms Uri and Viola blasted the southern central US in mid-February, Novus said its team in Texas has been working to assess the impact of the bad weather on the manufacturing facility, as well as securing resources to make repairs, and restoring operations.

“Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the team in Texas, significant progress has been made.”

The methionine producer said it has been engaging with its customers throughout the restoration process.

Storm linked agricultural losses

And a new report shows water tanks froze, feedlots and dairies ran out of feed supplies, and some grain-rich grazing fields in Texas were damaged as a result of the inclement weather. 

Texans witnessed historically low temperatures during those mid-February storms.

The local livestock industry was hard hit, suffering US$228m in losses, according to a Texas A&M report released on Tuesday [March 2].

In total, the storms cost at least US$600m in agricultural losses for Texan farmers, finds that preliminary data.

“A large number of Texas farmers, ranchers and others involved in commercial agriculture and agricultural production were seriously affected by Winter Storm Uri,”​ said Jeff Hyde, AgriLife Extension director, Bryan-College Station. “Freezing temperatures and ice killed or harmed many of their crops and livestock as well as causing financial hardships and operational setbacks. And the residual costs from the disaster could plague many producers for years to come.”

Corn and grain sorghum crops planted in South Texas and elsewhere before the storm will need to be replanted.  

“The most significant grain crop at risk during the storm was wheat, especially wheat that had started to grow,”​ said Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension economist, grain marketing, Bryan-College Station, “But wheat that was still in a dormant state likely survived and will produce.”

He also noted there were statewide losses of livestock grazing materials such as oats, rye grass and triticale, all included in the estimate.

Financial headaches for Texan poultry, ruminant farmers

Livestock losses include not only cattle, sheep and goats and their offspring that died or were badly injured during the freeze, but also damage to the livestock industry infrastructure, commented David Anderson, AgriLife Extension livestock economist, Bryan-College Station.

He noted the livestock loss estimate also included initial poultry outlays: costs related to bird loss, damage to housing facilities and increased heating costs to keep the animals warm.

Beef cattle losses include estimated value of death losses, additional feed use, lost winter small grain grazing, lost weights and feed efficiency in feedlots, and losses due to delayed marketing. Sheep and goat losses include estimated death losses, and dairy losses include cattle death loss, lost milk production and the value of milk dumped due to transportation problems and processing delays.”

Texas agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller, said some Texas dairy operations suffered significant financial damage as trucks were unable to pick up and deliver milk for processing.

The loss of power across the state also cut into the agriculture sector’s bottom line through disruptions in processing operations and the agricultural supply chain, he added.

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